The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TaeKwonDo testing and dog fu

Danny and Sam tested in TaeKwonDo this weekend. Both guys did great! And they ended up getting paired up with each other for sparring, which was a first.

It has been unseasonably hot and Argos enjoyed the early winter heat at Maxwell Park.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Booze hound

Today Danny observed the dog messing with something in the backyard. Upon further inspection, Argos was burying a sealed bottle of Smithwick's. Indeed, there were several unopened bottles of beer throughout the yard. Argos is peeved at us because we locked the recycling bin so that he couldn't gnaw up our recyclables. Apparently, the dog had carefully carried several bottles of beer in his mouth from the mud room, down the stairs and into the back yard.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weekend hijinks and the 5th

Another action-packed weekend in Normal. Sam and Danny's TaeKwonDo teacher had set up his place for an elaborate Harry Potter party for his daughter and her girlfriends last weekend. This weekend he had people over for a magic-themed party. Joseph was Dumbledore.

Sam was some kind of evil wizard, although he has taken off his robes to challenge Katana to a duel over who can sit in front of the hot fireplace longer.

I was a mathemagician. Here I am inverting someone's matrix.

Danny was the CheeseWizard.

Sunday we went to the pool on campus for Faculty/Staff Family swim. The kids had a great time, although Joseph still can't swim on his own and is resistant to try.

I baked foccacio. (I could swear that I baked two of them. Hmm...)

And of course, every time we go swimming, Joseph gets sick. After we got back from the pool, Joseph's face was bright red and he was acting squirrely. We deduced that he had 5th disease. (See--that giant pile of parenthood preparedness books that I read 10 years ago when I was pregnant with Sam did come in handy!)

Monday, Joseph had no school, but we had to take him to his school with us for a parent-teacher meeting. By the time the red-cheeked "slapped" look starts, the 5th disease virus has run its course and is no longer contagious. But to avoid suspicion at school until we could get a doctor's note, we told Joseph that his red face was an allergic reaction to the Dumbledore beard. When he was asked about his face, Joseph said: "I had a surgery on my face from my Dumbledore beard," which was kind of cute and inexplicable until we explained that he meant "allergy" not "surgery."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trees and arrows

I used to be more outdoorsy, but being married to an indoorsy New Yorker for 15 years has taken its toll. I generally don't get to get out anywhere unless it is near and I can go alone (with the dog). When I do get the crew outside, I have the uncomfortable feeling that everyone is waiting for me to produce something entertaining out of the bushes and protect them from any and all natural dangers.

I want the kids to have some appreciation for nature. Usually I try to get the kids to appreciate the suburban/rural nature that is near us. Both kids have a good knowldege of the taxonomy of insects and other invertebrates.

But, periodically, I do drag everyone outside and I thought that I'd give the Moraine View State Park a try. It was the closest state park--40 minutes away. But it was a lame state park. Miles of trails, but all were inexplicably closed to hiking except for the 0.5 mile archery trail. The kids and Argos had a good time, though.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Good ol' Normal

As reported in the Pantagraph:

Suspects drive by robbery victim while he was giving description to police
NORMAL -- Normal police believe they were able to solve an attempted robbery within minutes Friday night because the suspects drove by while the victim was giving an officer their description.

A man in his 20s told police he was confronted by four people at 6:25 p.m. on the ground floor of the parking deck at the Junction Place apartment complex at Main Street and Hovey Avenue, police said. One suspect had a knife, he told police.

He ran away after the four demanded money, and the suspects ran in another direction, he told police.

As the victim was giving police a description, he saw a car pull out of the parking deck and said, “Well, that’s them,” said Normal Police Sgt. Kevin Henderson.

Normal police stopped the car a short distance away. By 6:38 p.m., two men, a woman and a male juvenile were in custody, police said.

“They didn’t plan out an escape route very well,” Henderson said.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Much better

The sky is bluer, the grass is greener, the air is autumnier. Everything is just much better now. As the election results were announced, I could hear screams of enthusiasm coming from campus. (I am still not sure whether as an ISU employee with restrictions on my freedom of speech I would be allowed to join them.)

Joseph has taken down the hundreds of Halloween decorations that he has drawn and is starting to replace them with happy Obamas.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Used car?

Would you buy a used car from this fellow?

How about if this fellow drew you a complete guide to Creatures of Death including "Giint oktpos," "anglr fish," "giint taradaktl," "vampiyr ghost bat," "spitr," "small crab," and "babbi bug?"

Green tomato cake

Although today it was >70 degrees F, last weekend nighttime temperatures dropped below freezing, so I had to pick the remainder of the garden. I had a ton of these green tomatoes, so I went online and found some recipes. This one for green tomato cake was awesome! It was a really delicious cake, and the green tomatoes were kind of sweet and tangy, like kumkwats.


Am I going nuts, or has Halloween blossomed into a massive extravaganza of a holiday? It is no longer just a kids' holiday: it is a giant inflatable lawn ornament and porch-decorating holiday and a college student binge-drinking holiday, too. (In fact, ISU has moved parents' weekend to coincide with Halloween to keep the undergrads under control.)

This year costumes went on sale at the beginning of September and all of the good ones were sold out before October. I think that the idea is that if you buy costumes in advance, the kids will change their minds or ruin the costume in the intervening two months and you will have to buy another one. I tried to sell the kids on home-made costumes, but no dice. This is the first year that no one needed for me to sew them anything elaborate. Snif. Sam wanted to be Iron Man and Joseph wanted to be Darth Vader, so I bought costumes in September and stuck them in the closet for safety. Is it just me, or does Joseph look like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs?

We went to the annual Halloween Planetarium show (for a detailed description, read last year's post). Soooo corny... I was chatting with the fellow who runs the planetarium the other day and I had an epiphany--he records the cheesy audio tracks for the shows!!!

Normal has the annual Uptown Normal Treat Fest for kids to go from store to store and get candy (and coupons--what every kid wants!) But this year was insane--there were just too many people for the length of the street, so that everyone ended up gridlocked and unable to move forward, even though there was plenty of candy (and coupons!) We eventually gave up and stopped for dinner.

Joseph's school has a Halloween parade, which Danny attended. Sam's school also has a "Halloween walk-a-thon" which we didn't see.

Darth Vader makes a skeleton out of Q-tips.

After we went to the Harvest Festival, Sam asked if we could make a scarecrow. So we dipped into the discarded clothes collection, and stuffed them with plastic bags (the ones that I can't use for crocheting). However, the day before Halloween, it was (not surprisingly) stolen off of our porch. So we made another one for Halloween. Sam helped stuff it and Joseph made the mask.

Our neighborhood is awesome for trick-or-treating! There are loads of older neighbors who recall Halloween nostalgically, and stuff handfuls of candy into the kids' bags. Our neighbors also do this awesome haunted yard. Sam was a little freaked out, but Joseph spent a long time examining each of the corpses and ghouls.

We left a big bowl of candy on the porch and when we got back from trick-or-treating, although it looks like some kids helped themselves the bowl was still there! And the biggest surprise--after Halloween weekend, the scarecrow is still there, and the pumpkins haven't been smashed!